USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Black Hawk
B-17F-90-BO 42-30180

96th Bomb Group, 337th Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Sgt Johnnie WHITE
96th Bomb Group
Snetterton Heath, England

Black Hawk

This was another Fort originally assigned to 384BG but transferred on 6th July to 96BG. Some sources suggest that the aircraft was also named "Guzzlers" but on its right side Johnnie White painted an impressive design of a black bird riding an 8-ball sprouting machineguns like a chin turret, or ball turret. "Black Hawk" did not in fact carry the chin turret which became standard with later B17G models. If it had the aircraft might have faired better in the latter half of the year. Between mid-July and 31st December it sustained notable battle damage on at least seven occasions. On the final day of 1943, flak inflicted particularly serious damage which put the plane out of action for some time.

Returning to combat in January 1944 it was hit heavily again on 29th when "Black Hawk" was riddled with 20mm cannon fire, which also wounded two of the crew. The veteran Fort may have been withdrawn from combat operations after this battering and at some time later in the year was transferred to be modified for the experimental remote control "Aphrodite" project. Stripped of weaponry and packed with explosives and extra fuel, the aircraft was aimed at the submarine pens at Heligoland on 11th September 1944. Tragically, one of the pilots was killed as he bailed out of the "drone" but it was successfully controlled by the "mother" ship and aimed at the target. 350 metres short of its aiming point it was shot down into the sea.

Note that just below the angled cheek gun mounting, someone has added further embellishment by cutting out a Vargas pin-up from a copy of Esquire magazine and pasting it onto the side, adding the name "Bette Lore".

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© Ray Bowden 28 February 2024